I am excited about this post!! Last week I asked Krisanne, Cali’s occupational therapist, if she would send me some of her top favorite occupational therapy toys for moms to purchase as Christmas gifts. She was on board and sent out an email to some of her colleagues to get their opinions as well. She came up with eight fabulous ideas. She was also kind enough to give an explanation on each of these ideas. I loved this because a handful of the ideas seem rather common, but when you read WHY, you will understand how each of the gifts is conducive to occupational therapy. Here it goes…
1. iPod or MP3 Player: can be used to decrease auditory sensitivity by reducing environmental noise (particularly when used with noise reducing headphones); can also be used for calming or alerting, depending on the type of music selected (slow, rhythmic, deep-pitched music is calming; fast, arhythmic, high-pitched music is alerting; shoot for 50-70 beats per minute for organizing); “white noise” can be used during homework or table-top tasks to increase focus; tip-try to use for no more than 20 minutes at a time, then take a break, particularly if used for auditory sensitivity
2. Body Sox (view sample here): provides deep pressure input that is calming and organizing. can be used for free play (imitation games, motor planning, creative play), as part of a “safe place” for calming, or as part of a sensory diet (child can sit in the body sox during table top activities, use it during prescribed breaks, etc.). Tip: although this can be purchased through therapy sites, they are more affordable (although also less durable) found here; you can also make your own very easily.
3. Egg Chair (view sample here): I like the IKEA one because it has the front shade that closes. Can be used as a “safe place” for organization, or can be used for movement input (spinning). You can google egg chair and find some that are cheaper, but there are none I like quite as well. If used for a “safe place”, inexpensive kid’s tents work just as well. You can throw in a couple of stuffed animals and pillows, if you like.
4. “Writing” Bin: so many kids with SPD have difficulty with writing for one reason or another. Get a storage bin and fill it with supplies to make writing as fun as possible. Some ideas: color changing markers, scented markers, dry-erase crayons (NOT markers), shaving cream, wiggle pens, light-up pens, squishy pencil grips, fun paper, etc. Have fun with writing and coloring!
5. Sensory Bin: again, get a storage bin (large or small) and fill it with stuff your child needs. For calming-squishy balls, stretchy bands, calming scents (lavender, vanilla, etc.). putty or play-doh, “I-spy” beanbags; for alerting-anything that vibrates (toothbrush, wiggle pen, vibrating teether, etc.), fidgets that click or make noise, koosh balls, scents (mint, cinnamon, etc.); for organizing-finger puzzles, bendable erasers, textured fabrics, “chewies”, bubbles, etc.
6. Anything weighted: some options are weighted stuffed animals, blankets, lap pads, hats, shoulder weights, hand weights, weighted ball. Most can be easily made (let me know if you want links)
7. Swing or Trampoline-really anything to get some movement input. small, indoor trampolines work great and can be found at discount stores for under $30. Swings can be as complicated as an outdoor play set or a professional-grade indoor suspension kit, or as simple as swings from IKEA or door mounted swings . Sit-n-spins also work great for small kiddos, and rocking chairs for all ages.
8. For older (school-age) kids-Zones of Regulation app-helps kids become more independent with self-regulation and sensory processing skills